Robert Frank (1924-2019) was a Swiss-American photographer and documentary filmmaker. His most notable work, the 1958 book titled The Americans, earned him comparisons to a modern-day de Tocqueville for his fresh and nuanced outsider's view of American society.
Though Frank and his family remained safe in Switzerland during World War II, the threat of Nazism nonetheless affected his understanding of oppression. He turned to photography, in part as a means to escape the confines of his business-oriented family and home, and trained under a few photographers and graphic designers before he created his first hand-made book of photographs, 40 Fotos, in 1946. Frank emigrated to the United States in 1947, and secured a job in New York City as a fashion photographer for Harper's Bazaar. He was initially optimistic about the United States’ society and culture, but his perspective quickly changed as he confronted the fast pace of American life and what he saw as an overemphasis on money.
Portrait by B.A. King